MILWAUKEE (AP) – They’re called the Castaway Guys.
Nine U.S. Army reservists who left Wisconsin for active duty in Bosnia five weeks ago still languished Saturday at Fort Bragg, N.C., not needed abroad and unable to return home.
Army Reserve Sgt. Donald J. Langel expected to stay just a week at Fort Bragg, then take an assignment in civil affairs with a battalion of soldiers from Turkey.
Instead, he’s in a bureaucratic limbo while his wife, Trish, three children and his boss, who hired him in November, await his return to Milwaukee.
“As far as I know, everything is still the same, Mrs. Langel said Saturday. “We’ll see what happens.”
Langel, 41, told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel in a telephone interview Friday that he feels like a yo-yo. “One day they tell you that you are going back home, the next day they say we’re headed for Bosnia. I just wish they’d makeup their minds,” he said.
The Wisconsin reservists have become “kind of famous down here at Fort Bragg,” Langel said. “Everybody on the base knows us. We’re called the ‘Castaway Guys.’ Nobody knows what to do with us.”
The problem was that the Army called up more reservists than were actually needed, said Lt. Col. Ken McGraw, a Fort Bragg spokesman.
“You always start out with a plan, and then you program things based on the plan — and the plan changes, so you have to change the program,” McGraw said.
Langel and the other eight men, member’s of Green Bay’s 432nd Civil Affairs Battalion, probably will be demobilized soon and returned to Wisconsin, McGraw said. But then again, maybe not, he added.
“We definitely know that the orders for the men have been changed,” McGraw said. “We’re waiting for a message from Germany to confirm that. It’s a formality. But you never know. As it appears now, anyway, they’re headed home.”
Eighty-two from the battallion were sent to Fort Bragg and 73 went on to Bosnia, said Sgt. Connie McNamara at Green Bay headquarters.
Langel said he was previously told the remaining Green Bay battalion members coould expect too leave for Wisconsin Feb. 25. He phoned his wife and employer to tell them the good news.
“Then nothing happened, except we started hearing again that they were sending us to Bosnia,” Langel said. “I’m just disgusted with the whole thing.”
Langel, a computer systems analyst at New Resources Corp. in Waukesha, said he’s spent his days at the Army base watching television and working on a cross-stitch wall hanging for his 8-year-old son, Kevin.
“I’ve been eating alot, too,” said Langel, who served six months in Kuwait and Iraq during the Gulf War. “That’s about all we got to look forward to.”
March 3, 1996
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